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Faith Under Fire

One of the fun things about being a writer is the diverse opportunities. I have authored a novel, Illusion, written for national magazines, worked as a travel producer for an international travel show, and currently as a script consultant. I have also been afforded the opportunity to have my screenplays favorably reviewed by industry and Hollywood professionals. I am thankful for the great reviews and wonderful opportunities that have come from what started as a hobby. One of the most awesome things I have seen thus far, is a movie production come to completion.

From right to left: Lead Actor Nick Vlassopoulos, Producer Melissa Kerley, Jamie Hope, Stephanie

This weekend I attended my first movie premiere for Faith Under Fire, featuring Dean Cain and Kevin Sorbo. It was a lot of fun and quite educational being on set during production. I even had a tiny role in the film, seen in the image above. If you have the opportunity, try to become an extra on the set of a movie, offer your services for free in other possible roles for the first time to gain experience, and just observe. You never know what other opportunities may present themselves.

Actress Sheeba Jacob and Jamie Hope

When I first began writing, I didn’t know where it would take me. I am still on this journey and really, I have only just begun. For those of you apprehensive about wanting to try something new and are fearful of stepping out and walking on water – just remember – you will fail. Yes, you will, it’s a fact of life. But what’s worse than failing is never trying. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. If you humble yourself and decide you are okay with failing, you will surprise yourself in the ways you will succeed. Even though I have failed several times, I don’t even think about those moments because the times I have succeeded have shined brighter.

You only live once, and there are no do-overs. You may find yourself replacing a career you hate with one born of passion. You may get to travel and meet new friends. Or who knows, you may find yourself in the movies.

 Howard Storm‘s and his ‘Descent Into Death’ has been on The Oprah Winfrey Show, 48 hours, Discovery Channel, Unsolved Mysteries, and NBC’s Today Show. Howard was a self professed atheist and hedonist. In his early years he went to California to experience the ‘culture shift’ which included atheism, sex, drugs and alcohol. He confesses that he not only didn’t believe in God but that he was hostile toward Him. He even went as far as to target students of faith to get them to turn on their beliefs. But that all changed the day he died, waiting for a life saving procedure.

As he says, “When I left my body I didn’t understand what was happening since I didn’t believe in life after death. All I knew was that thing in the bed was not me anymore. I was more alive than I ever felt.” He tried to talk to his wife and his roommate but they didn’t hear him. “I heard voices from another room calling my name and they were saying hurry up let’s go. So I went to the doorway of the room and the voices were off in the shadowy hallway where I couldn’t see them.” When he refused to go any further with them they dragged him to his new destination…hell.

He still has a hard time talking about what happened to him in hell. But his countenance lifts when he describes the moment he saw Jesus. And that is where our phone conversation begins.

Jamie Hope: Did you know when He came to you in hell that He was Jesus?

Mr. Storm: Yes, but it was because of his love. Not because of his appearance. He knew everything about me completely. He is the most remarkable person there is in the universe.

Jamie Hope: Have you ever wondered why God chose you out of all the atheists in the world to have this experience?

Mr. Storm: I wonder about it a lot. I think there are several possible reasons. One reason is a nun whom I met in 1972 when I first started teaching at the university. I told her I was an atheist. She started praying for me every day and a convent of nuns were praying for me every day for years. Another possible reason is when I was twelve I went to church and told a minister I wanted to be baptized. Jesus doesn’t like to lose one of his own.

Jamie Hope: It is awesome to talk to someone who has literally been face to face with Jesus.

Howard Storm: He’s with us always. He is with you now just as much as He was with me in heaven. When He was sending me back here I didn’t want to go, I wanted to stay with Him. He said I was never away from you I was always there even when you rejected me.

Jamie Hope: I have always prayed for God to show me the spirit world. I want to get a glimpse of what is really happening.

Howard Storm: You don’t want to see it. You really don’t because it is way too much information. I have prayed to God that I don’t want to see this stuff anymore. You don’t want to get caught up in that. Overall, we need to be in touch with the people here. There are people in this world that need us. They need us to be present in the here and now. To quote mother Teresa, “If you want to see God look into the smile of a child.” When you look into the beauty and light and love of a child’s face you can see God.

Jamie Hope: When you met with Jesus did you ask Him questions or did He just tell you what He thought you needed to know?

Howard Storm: Everything we discussed it was because I asked a question. One of the most wonderful answers He gave me was when I asked Him which is the best religion? I was thinking Catholic, Presbyterian, and Protestant etc. His answer was, “The best religion is the one that brings you closest to God,” he was referring to how I meant it. And I said which one brings you closest? He said, “There are good people in bad religions and bad people in good religion. It is not about the religion it is about your relationship with God.” My opinion of how God sees our different denominations is, the Bible says one faith, one God, one baptism. God sees one church of believers in Jesus Christ and they are not judged by what their church necessarily teaches them but how they love God and how they love their neighbor.

Jamie Hope: I saw in your other interviews that God talked about the future of the United States. You say in American history we had things called the great awakening and that we are near a great awakening in America that will either wake us up or the slate will be wiped clean. That our population will greatly decrease from over one hundred million to tens of thousands. How soon do you think this great awakening could happen? Months, years, decades?

Howard Storm: God wants an awakening in this country. God doesn’t make us do anything and if we don’t turn we are going to fall. It is going to crash. The time is now. The pilgrims despite what the textbooks teach they came here to practice their faith. They risked their lives and died trying to establish a settlement, which meant crazy things like studying the Bible.

Jamie Hope: Did you get a sense of urgency?

Mr. Storm: I do think there is a sense of urgency. I think there is a huge change needed in the way we behave. God is going to have this world change one way or another.

Jamie Hope: You talk about the future of the world in your interviews. You said Jesus showed you a future where people will be able to grow plants on the spot and there is no disease because people could heal immediately. Is this after the return of Christ to live on earth for the thousand year reign?

Howard Storm interviewing about his death

Mr. Storm: First of all I don’t know when Christ is going to return, but the world that he showed me was so remarkably different that something dramatic had happened.

Jamie Hope: Jesus told you there are other worlds with beings in them and that they never accepted evil and they are perfect in nature. It is mind boggling to think of that. So God created other beings like us on other planets but their stories are different?

Mr. Storm: Yes. They know Jesus and they know God; and much better than we do.

Jamie Hope: Was there any indication we were close enough to contact them?

Howard Storm: This world is a real low class world. In the future we will be connected to other things but we are quarantined right now because we are so evil.

Jamie Hope: How many populated worlds are there?

Howard Storm: There are a lot I think. He said the universe is full of life.

Jamie Hope: Did they look like us?

Mr. Storm: Jesus showed me an image of them. They started out looking like us but then began to change into something that looked strange. I can only describe them as what you might think of as deep sea creatures, some with antennas. It was too much for me so I asked Him not to show me anymore.

Jamie Hope: In the Bible it says that Satan was cast down to earth. Do you think that is why we have to contend more with evil? Do you think Satan attempts to infiltrate the other worlds that are good?

Mr. Storm: Satan has no power except what we give him. The fact that he is powerful in this world is our choice. I don’t know the answer but I don’t think he would stand a chance at those other places.

Jamie Hope: Do you believe the UFO’s are what people have described them to be, just from another world or are they really demonic in nature?

Mr. Storm: I asked Jesus about UFOs and He said we should avoid them because they are up to no good. They are not space travelers, they’re dimension travelers. Demons are not vapors or a mist they are real actual beings. They operate on a different vibratory state then we do. So that to most of us most of the time they are not physical. The electromagnetic spectrum, we can see one tiny sliver. Our eyes are capable of seeing 3 different wave lengths. But we have developed machines that can detect other wave lengths we cannot see, gamma and ultraviolet for example. We could be exposed to a dose of radiation that we can’t see and die from it. There is a whole world of beings we can’t see and hear most of the time and they are toxic.

Jamie Hope: Have you had anymore encounters with angels or demons since your experience in heaven and hell?

Mr. Storm: They’ve (demons) made themselves known to me. They’ve been around. I try to keep myself filled with Jesus. Yes, angels have also manifested.

Jamie Hope: What do you say to the critics and unbelievers who think you were just dreaming or may label you as crazy?

Mr. Storm: What I learned is that I can’t convince people that don’t want to believe in God or don’t want to believe in my experience. Sometimes they try to say it was because of the drugs they gave me in the hospital. I begged for drugs and they didn’t give me any. They don’t want to hear it and they won’t hear it. Faith really comes from God. People that don’t know what they are talking about try to tell people what the truth is. People say Jesus never existed. That is a dumb remark. There is more evidence that Jesus existed than Julius Caesar but nobody questions the existence of Julius Caesar.

Jamie Hope: You were on Oprah. How did hearing your story affect her?

Howard Storm: First let me say she is very kind. She is a lovely person but I sensed she was troubled. I don’t think she wants to believe there is a hell. She was skeptical. I was hoping she was going to be more receptive then she was.

Jamie Hope: One of the things that struck me the most besides going to hell and heaven is that you said you and other professors actually would target students of faith to get them to no longer believe. How many professors around America do you think have this mentality and actually try to get students to lose their faith?

Mr. Storm: I can’t answer that scientifically. I did discover Christian professors after being saved. They stay quiet because they won’t be successful if they speak about it.

Jamie Hope: What would you tell parents or people going off to college about this problem of professors targeting students of faith?

Mr. Storm: Parents should tell them they are going to meet different professors with different points of view then their own and they may be completely hostile to Christianity. They (the professors) are not stupid; they are not going to say I hate Christianity. It will be argued against in a more sophisticated way. In some sense it is good to be exposed to it. If they have any sense of Christian apologetics they may thrive but it is hard to take on a professor. Encourage the student to join Christian organizations.

Jamie Hope: What made you decide to no longer be a professor?

Mr. Storm: It was a difficult decision because I loved teaching art and I loved the students, but I felt church was a place where truth was taught. I felt, unfortunately at the time, since I was told not to talk about religion from the Dean that I was stifled. You are involved more directly with the students with art. Students were having spiritual struggles and the only time I could talk to them was outside class.

His story is compelling enough that not only was Howard a guest on the previous mentioned shows, but his book is currently being adapted to film and is being produced by Warner Brother’s Studios.

To read more about Howard Storm’s experience you can purchase his book, My Descent Into Death: A Second Chance at Life

Former mobster Kenji Gallow

On my new show, The 13th Floor, with myself and award-winning radio show host, Rich Michaels, we interview former mobster, Kenji Gallo – and you’re not going to want to miss it!

Kenji grew up in an affluent area in California but his reign of terror began at an early age. However, after going to military school, he says he just learned how to become a smart criminal. Drug cartels, pornography business, and mafia ties – Kenji saw it all! But after tiring of the criminal life, and realizing the only way out was death or prison, he plotted a harrowing escape and surprisingly learned to tell about it.

Listen to him as he tells about his life in crime and how he was able to leave it behind and live a normal Midwest life today.

Former mobster Kenji Gallow

I met and friended a woman on Facebook who is the wife of an old friend from high school – it seemed almost instant that her and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on almost everything. We had those knock down drag out back and forth arguments regarding what most people fight about these days – race relations and politics. I am a white Libertarian (more conservative), she is a Democrat African American. It got quite contentious and I couldn’t figure out why everything appeared to be racial with her. However, instead of two very different people deciding to unfriend each other, we decided to do the harder thing and talk through our differences (I am thankful we did – she has a good heart and is an awesome lady. In fact, I sent this blog to her before posting for feedback.) What I am learning through her is that sometimes people just want to be heard and understood. At first I couldn’t figure out why she is so affected by something that happened “so long ago.” But between actually talking with her and gaining understanding, coupled with this new scientific finding, it could literally be in our DNA. New fascinating breakthroughs in science are determining that the DNA of our ancestors, and their emotional responses to traumatic situations in previous generations, can cause emotional responses and potential trauma in the current generation.

According to an article in The Guardian new research on genes and DNA done on the offspring of Holocaust survivors, scientists have found genetic markers of anxiety and stress disorders. They believe that grandparents who experienced excruciating pain, stress, and anxiety, changed their DNA and those feelings and trauma became embedded, which is therefore passed down to children and grandchildren. According to Dr. Rachel Yehuda, director of Mount Sinai’s Traumatic Stress Studies Division, “The pattern – known as epigenetic change because it affects the chemical marker for the gene rather than the gene itself – suggests that profound stress in the older generation translated into an adaptation that passed on to the next.”

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology specializing in Neuropsychology seconds this find. According to Dr. Leaf, “…something outside the cell (diet, exercise, thoughts, nurturing) changes the ‘on/off’ switches on the genes of the DNA in sperm and eggs.”

She continues, “Scientists has (sic) known for a while about these switches – clusters if (sic) atoms called methyl groups – but the fact they can pass through the generations and that these tags can be reset is a new idea.”

This is a profound find. My first thought goes to the issue of slavery and civil rights in America. One of the arguments has been that we are now several generations out of slavery and our children two generations from the Civil Rights Movement. Yet, there often times is genuine anger from those that most would say have never been directly affected by slavery (Yes, there will always be an affect in not knowing full ancestry, the knowledge of what was done to ancestors, and the socio-economic factors that are still impacting many African Americans.)

While there is sometimes a “get over it and move on” mentality in our country, perhaps the emotions and feelings that are being felt by the current generation are not just from the knowledge of what happened, even if they are raised in the best circumstances America has to offer. It is embedded in their DNA to feel the feelings their grandparents felt of widespread racism, slavery, and the violence associated with it in the last century and beyond, and it’s possible they passed down trauma from the slavery era. My friend on the opposite side of the aisle also pointed out that if trauma is found in DNA, what about prejudice? Racism? Could it be that somehow ancestors in their hate for another race also left markers in their DNA for that emotion as well?

Not that this potential finding in any way absolves those committing these horrible and ignorant sins against humanity – we are all responsible for ourselves ultimately – but if some humans come pre-wired for certain behaviors would this change the way we perceive this issue? It’s interesting to note that a passage in the Bible might actually address this behavior. Exodus 34:7, “Keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” In other words, the sins of the father’s, and maybe the effects of sin toward others in previous generations, affect their future generations up to four generations. Perhaps could it be that this was written because our Creator knew about the affect we have on our DNA and it being passed on?

Perhaps not all bad habits and mental health issues are learned behavior or circumstantial, maybe many of us are suffering because of something that happened twenty five, fifty and perhaps even over one hundred years ago. What a profound thought.

Two things we should learn from this, especially those who have not yet had children – our thoughts, feelings and trauma won’t just affect our lives, but could affect future generations. Also, maybe it’s time we stop shouting each other down, being quick to dismiss other’s feelings, and due the harder thing, sit down and try to understand one another. We might not end up agreeing in the end, but sometimes, people want to be heard and understood. Some maybe be reading this and dismissing the notion because the other side is irrational, or other excuses, but what does hurt to put your own desires, beliefs, and notions aside for a moment to just listen? To gain understanding? As a result, maybe we can change our DNA for the better.